The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baker's Depression Is...

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

Baker's Depression Is...

...perusing the equipment at a Costco "bakery" and realizing you'd have to bake (and sell!) several million loaves of bread just to afford similar equipment. Not one, not two, but five 120 qt. Hobarts. Six ovens! And they're the size of my bedroom! And, and, and! What comes out of this "bakery"? Faux-croissants, parbaked (i.e. reheated), tasteless La Brea "artisan" loaves, poppy seed muffins the size of an average human buttock, birthday cakes the length of airport runways, and 17" pumpkin pies–but not one loaf of bread in the entire warehouse worth eating. 


tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

of something we used to say about whitewater rafting:

First you do it for fun, then you do it for friends, and then you do it for money.

Although the origin of this saying was always attributed to an older profession...

Wild-Yeast's picture

That's funny...,

Baking at Costco, I believe, is what's called a loss leader. According to Investopedia: "A business strategy in which a business offers a product or service at a price that is not profitable for the sake of offering another product/service at a greater profit or to attract new customers...,".

I've wondered about this for some time as the Costco business model has some wide open profit holes in it..., 


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Ha ha!

It has to be a loss leader–the equipment depreciation alone would offset any profit, even when it's amortized over a dozen years; but, I think the plot thickens! Perhaps it's a premediated plan to drag us around the warehouse by our noses!

Maybe it's all about suffusing the back of store with the smell of muffins and cookies. (And the front of the store with pepperoni and melted cheese).

Draw them to the back where the really expensive stuff is, then pull them back to the front with the smell of a pepperoni pizza lunch, where they pay for their chosen wares and temptations. And, don't forget! As they meander through the aisles, make little, old ladies tempt them when bites of yummy. Make them crave those 1,000 piece bags of ravioli! You know you want it! And they freeze so well!

Others rob banks!

I shall rob a Costco!

One of those Hobart mixers will be mine!

I must set it free!


(Relax Homeland Security. I won't be robbing a Costco. I don't know how to drive a forklift. I've just had too much coffee again. And it's only 5:13 am!)

loydb's picture

... that's what they all say. Please join me in the room in the back while I look for my latex gloves and orifice inspector.



thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)


Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

I am willing to bet that dues to the volume of people and product produced, they most likely do make money.

Consider the size of the ovens and the amount that could be done in a single bake, that makes proffit an easy thing to get.

Also, equipment doesnt make good bread, good bakers make good bread...regardless of equipment.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

What's depressing is that they have all the capital they need to buy all equipment they could possibly want and then choose to bake products that are, at their best, embarrassments to good bakers everywhere, to say nothing of the masses that voluntarily eat the garbage they sell.

Good bakers being in limited supply, I'm not sure that they could even produce good bread at their scale, even with all of that equipment, so perhaps not entirely their fault. And when you look at the bakery products they sell that they don't make in-house, those products are just as terrible, if not more so.

Wild-Yeast's picture

Now that you mention it the frequency of bakery items at checkout seems to be low.

As a loss leader it begs the question of why they haven't been toying with the idea of going upscale on quality products at an affordable price. When you consider the extent of Costco locations and the level of investment it would be well worthwhile to explore - the dead end may be the customer tastebuds and the fact that they have to slice it themselves...,    

On the other hand it might be wise to just lay low. Let the artisan bakers compete without worrying about the "Temple of Manufactured Food" horning in on their turf...,


gerhard's picture

They will never produce quality at affordable prices because it would require staff that has more training than a 8 hour orientation shift.